Hot dogs are as dangerous and cancerous as cigarettes? They are– or at least they should be labeled as such– according to a consumer fraud lawsuit filed on behalf of three New Jersey residents against Nathan’s Famous, Kraft Foods/Oscar Mayer, Sara Lee, Con Agra Foods, and Marathon Enterprises. The law suit was filed by the nonprofit Cancer Project, a collaborative effort of physicians, researchers and nutritionists who have joined together to educate the public about the benefits of a healthy diet for cancer prevention and survival and is also an affiliate of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). All five companies are being accused of failure to warn customers that consumption of hotdogs increases the danger of colorectal cancer and seeks to compel all five companies to place cancer-risk warning labels on hot dog packages sold in New Jersey. According to PCRM, the lawsuit is based on the findings of a landmark report from the American Institute for Cancer Research, based on 58 separate scientific studies, showing that just one 50-gram serving of processed meat (about the amount in one hot dog) consumed daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer, on average, by 21 percent. Risk increases with increasing consumption. Colorectal cancer is a common and serious condition. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer in both men and women.
To some this lawsuit may seem absurd, but, here at the Brod Law Firm, we feel that that may just be the point. We might just need to be shook, shocked, or knocked in the head with such news and information, information that makes us stop for a moment, engage our imaginations, and think about our relationship to food in this country. We do not protest the consumption of hot dogs-everything in moderation, that is our motto. But this type of news just might force some of us, some for the very first time, to see foods previously viewed as an “acceptable”, as unacceptable for the health of our bodies. Most people don’t realize, or do realize but choose to deny, when they purchase a package of hot dogs that they are made from carcass remnants and chemical additives. Additionally, they may not be aware that the nitrates, used as a preservative in hot dogs, break down into nitrosamines and other cancer forming compounds that are considered carcinogens. The more consumers purchase hot dogs and consume these compounds, the more they are at risk. As Neal D. Barnard of PCRM states: “The problem now is simply cultural. As slow as people were to accept that the cool-looking cigarette in Bogart’s lips might have been linked to the cancer that killed him, we have been even slower to accept that the foods we have given our children might lead to cancer in adulthood.”